Chapter 41 of Genesis ends by telling us how severe the famine affecting Egypt, Canaan, and all the surrounding nations became. “All countries came into Egypt to Joseph“, Verse 57 says, “…because that the famine was so sore in all lands.” Chapter 42 opens with Jacob’s response upon learning that there is food available in Egypt. In his response, we see four factors which mirror the steps a person takes in coming to Christ:
Recognizing Our Need
The first, and possibly the most crucial step, is recognizing our need for Christ. Before anything else, Jacob needed to be aware of his hunger or he would never make any effort to fill it. Before a sinner can repent and come to the Lord Jesus Christ, he must realize that what he has called his spiritual food is unsatisfying and emaciating. As a small child is tempted to fill their bellies with nothing but candy and sweets, so are many people contented to try to meet their spiritual nutritional needs by consuming whatever pleases their own tastes, starving all the while. Jesus said that He is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), but until a person knows that they have need of this Bread in order to live, they will not come to Him. If Jacob and his sons had remained satisfied eating the old and rotting scraps and fragments of leftovers they had at home, they would never have gone to where the food was.
Knowing Where The Food Is Not
“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?” (Genesis 42:1)
It is amazing the places people will look in an effort to find the answers to their problems. Rather than looking to God, most people are busy looking to one another for the answers. Every couple of years a new spiritual “guru” will emerge and write a bestselling book that promises to enlighten anyone who reads it. There is no God, is their repeated mantra, the answers lie within yourself. But looking to another human being for spiritual food is about as productive as the starving sons of Jacob looking to one another for something to eat.
Knowing Where the Food Is
“And [Jacob] said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt…” (Genesis 42:2a)
Jacob heard where to find food. Sri Lankan evangelist D.T. Niles is quoted as having said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”; and that is exactly what we are doing when we share the Gospel Message. For apart from Christ we are all starving to death, the only difference is when we know where to go to find food.
Going To Where the Food Is
“And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.” (Genesis 42:3)
The key word in this verse is “went.” The sons of Jacob responded by going. This is a picture of life-saving faith in action. We can hear from another beggar where to find food, but suppose we do not believe them? And even if we do, what if we do not take action and go to where they have told us? If Jacob’s sons had decided to just stay at home, if Jacob had doubts about whether or not there really was any food in Egypt and had waited for “proof” or “evidence” that the corn in Egypt was real, this whole family would have still starved to death. Hearing alone will not fill an empty stomach, only by going to the One Who has the Bread will we “live and not die” (Gen. 42:2).